By Liz Leamy
Over the past few months as virtually everyone on a global, national and local level has been dealing with the uncertainties and effects of the coronavirus pandemic-19 in some way, shape or form, there have been some inspirational and positive stories that have emerged from this challenging experience.
One such news item has been the recent report that right here in town, all of the 30 full-time residents at the Greens at Greenwich, the unique award winning assisted-living facility located on King Street, have been maneuvering through this historic and challenging period in healthy, steady and happy fashion.
Since early March, this high-energy and robust group of senior citizens, all of whom have been diagnosed with a memory impairment due to a type of dementia, brain or head trauma, as well as the entire Greens at Greenwich staff have remained covid free, with their physical, emotional and spiritual well – being functioning at optimal level, designating this as a win-win situation in every respect.
According to Maria Scaros, Executive Director of the Greens at Greenwich, this inspirational story is a result of the commitment and dedication of the staff as well as the result of the residents’ overall approach to their daily lives, one that revolves around the idea of just living in the moment.
Quarantining, which is a different type of experience in a memory-care assisted living environment due to the nature of memory impairment, so the Greens at Greenwich has adapted their care and isolation methods for this situation.
Residents are unable to practice social distancing among themselves, therefore the staff has had to be hyper vigilant about caring for themselves.
Since late February, the Greens at Greenwich residents and staff have been practicing self-isolation as a family. So this was implemented several weeks prior to the implementation of official CDC orders that were issued statewide throughout Connecticut in mid-March when the pandemic began to spread at a rampant level.
Since that time, residents have not had any direct contact with those individuals who either do not reside or work at the Greens at Greenwich facility, a contingent that includes their family members and friends along with outside vendors.
During this period, residents have been communicating with their family and friends through such social meeting computer sites as Skype, Zoom and FaceTime on a regular basis, which have been most effective tools.
Meanwhile, outside vendors have been leaving all deliveries and packages outside of the Greens at Greenwich building. (These items are always cleaned and disinfected by the staff prior to being brought inside the facility as a means to insure maximum safety and protection for everyone.)
“Our staff members have been working diligently to make sure to disinfect everything here. At the start of the day, they start cleaning at one end of the building and when they get to the other side, they work their way back to the area at which they started,” said Scaros. “Everyone on the staff, all of whom have been here for many years, is extremely dedicated to doing everything they can to make this a safe and sound environment for the residents in every way.”
According to Scaros, the Greens at Greenwich staff always make sure to wear their masks and wash their hands as much as possible throughout the day.
Staff members are also adamant about adhering to social distancing rules when they are not present at the facility and do not work at any other venues, which helps minimize the notion of unnecessary exposure to germs and other potentially risky health-related situations.
“We are doing everything we can to make the Greens at Greenwich a safe, fulfilling, healthy and happy experience for everyone here,” said Scaros. “I am always smiling when I think of the residents just enjoying their day. I think the most important thing for any human being is to feel safe and loved and this is how we try to approach everything we do in relation to everyone here.”
A golden living spot
Certainly, everything about the Greens at Greenwich seems to be of a golden standard, which is a primary reason for its runaway success.
The residents’ living quarters are lovely apartment-like dwellings that consist of spacious studios with a kitchenette. Patio areas serve as comfortable spaces for residents to either gather or take some alone time.
Then there is the breathtaking great room, the facility’s main “home base,” with its huge picture window that overlooks the picturesque grounds outside where residents can enjoy their meals and activities.
Residents have the option to choose dishes such as specialty pastas or chicken, fish or meats with assorted vegetables with an alternative to choose such go-to staples like cheeseburgers or ham and cheese sandwiches as well.
Activities serve as food for the soul
Throughout the day, there is a litany of enriching cultural and arts-oriented activities available to residents that appear to play a critical role in regard to their general happiness and health and that also revolve around the concept of ‘living in the moment.’
Interestingly, the Greens at Greenwich is the only assisted-living facility in the tri-state area that employs full-time creative arts therapists in art, music, dance/movement and drama therapy, discovering that it represents the new best medicine in dementia care.
On any given day, residents have the option to attend groups (conducted under the guise of social distancing) that revolve around the arts, music, culture, education, games, spirituality, exercise and floral creation, among other interesting and fun things.
“These activities are meant to engage, empower and give voice to the human spirit,” said Scaros. “There is something joyful about the arts that I believe everyone can understand and identify with. The arts help empower and tie people together and also provide an incredible form of human expression.”
Physical exercise is another main activity for the Greens at Greenwich residents, who make it a point to walk daily around the facility’s lush gardens in order to get some aerobic exercise along with some fresh air and sunshine. (Those residents who opt to refrain from going outside instead usually choose to walk around the halls and other areas of the facility.)
There are also Zumba, tai chi, yoga and aerobics groups for residents to partake in as well.
Another hotspot is the popular in-house spa, where residents can experience a range of different hair care and nail services provided by the enthusiastic Greens at Greenwich staff members. Since the beauticians and manicurists are furloughed, the Greens staff has stepped in.
“The Greens at Greenwich is easy to navigate, softly decorated and intimate,” said Scaros, adding that it is an environment that encourages community, physical, emotional and mental well being for all of its residents.
On most weeknights following dinner, many residents also like to watch ‘Jeopardy,’ the popular television game show.
In addition, they are said to also enjoy watching romantic comedies, like the 2002 runaway hit, ‘Maid in Manhattan’ starring Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes, among other well-known titles from that particular genre.
Residents are also offered spiritual services. Maria Scaros is not only the Executive Director and an arts psychotherapist, but also an interfaith minister and clinical chaplain who provides Christian and Jewish services weekly.
At the end of the day, the spirit, dedication and mindset of everyone involved at the Greens at Greenwich seems to be the key to their success, not only in terms of getting all of the residents through this pandemic in a safe and sound fashion, but also in regard to providing a method for virtually anyone to live a healthy, happy and fulfilling life on a daily ongoing basis.
Truly, this ‘living in the moment’ approach clearly seems to be one that is effective and universal.
“Our lives are all a story and everyone has something unique and incredible to contribute with their stories. That is what is so special about everyone here,” said Scaros. “I believe somebody else’s story always has a piece of yours in it, which is really what makes this experience so incredible.”
For more information please contact:
The Greens at Greenwich
1155 King Street
Greenwich, CT 06831